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The Impact of the Second World War on a London Borough: Bexley 1939-1945

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The Impact of the Second World War on a London Borough: Bexley 1939-1945 Bexley is a small London borough near Kent. Throughout the war, the Germans carried out air raid attacks, and Bexley was under threat as was the rest of the UK. Therefore residents and the government decided to arrange some strict guidelines and precautions that were to be enforced. Gas masks were distributed to people of all ages and status' long before the war broke out, as it was feared that Germany might have tried to attack Britain using gas. People carried their gas masks around with them everywhere, and kept them at an arms length. Some young children had customised masks to make the appeal less threatening for the children. 'Black-out' was another precaution taken, not only in Bexley, but also throughout the rest of the UK. Black Paper, or black curtains were fitted to the windows of every household. Car headlights were painted black, with a pinprick hole to allow some light out. This was done to prevent the aircraft bombers knowing where towns and cities were located. As the air strikes would be most likely to be carried out during the night, everything would appear to be black, and with the 'Black-out' precaution, the bombers would be unable to find the cities to bomb. People would be notified of bombing by air raid sirens that were placed on street corners. This protection measure set up the A.R.P's, the Air Raid Precaution. These were people who would walk the streets during the bombing and look for any households that were in breach of the 'Black-out' rules. ...read more.


The cinema was also a popular form of escapism for some of the residents of Bexley. It helped people escape form the real world, which was falling apart around them, and comforted many people at this time. The radio was also used for propaganda, and encouraged patriotism. Short stories were broadcast on air to persuade men women and children to get involved with the war effort. The radio supported the war and all its efforts. News and Public Information was also broadcasted on air. For example, when a batch of army troops were flown back to England, each and every one of the arrivals names would be read out on air, and with the number of men flying to and from positions in the war, the lists could go on for hours. Singers and songwriters of that time would also try and lift the spirits of their listeners. For example, Vera Lyn sang 'White Cliffs of Dover' which was the first thing that many soldiers saw on the arrival back to the U.K. and 'We'll meet again' Many humours songs about the war was made up, some became extremely well known. Local dances and other events were arranged to support the war effort, and there was things like war week, where every household would have to donate something to the war, and the soldiers fighting the war. People also had to create their own entertainment games like 'Charades' become more popular as the war continued. People's reactions to the war would differ greatly. ...read more.


People would contribute a small fee via taxes and in return there would be benefits for the sick, unemployed, widows, orphans and pension schemes for the elderly. The National Health Service was to be established in order to provide free health care for everyone. This service included hospital treatment and dentists and doctors. Free education would also be introduced for all. After the war the election in 1995 saw the Labour government come into power and introduce these changes. People voted for Labour in 1945, which showed that they were in need of Beveridge's ideas to be introduced. On the other hand there were many factors of the war that were only temporary. For example there was no need to evacuate children, teachers, and pregnant women, as there was not a threat of air raid attacks any more as the Germans surrendered. This meant that there was no longer any need for such groups like the Local Defence Volunteers and the Air Raid Precautions squads. Rationing stopped soon after the war as imports and exports began to redeem their trade, which had suffered tremendously throughout the war time period. There was not longer a need for Boy Scouts to handle weapons and girl guides to sew and knit socks for the army recruits. Morrison, Anderson and Public Shelters began to be dismantled due to the fact that there was no more bombing, although some of the Anderson Shelters were kept in the garden and used as gardening sheds. The social cohesion between different classes suddenly collapsed after it was announced that the war was over, and people who pulled together no longer spoke. ?? ?? ?? ?? Conni Donaldson, History Coursework, The Blitz, 7008. ...read more.

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